Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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In addition to the players that appear on the current Minnesota Stars roster, the team has a few non-roster invitees currently in preseason camp. Here's a quick rundown of the players that are trying to earn a spot on the roster:
- Peter McKeown is a Hill-Murray graduate who went to Loyola University in Chicago, where he finished his goalkeeping career with 20 shutouts, good for second place all-time in Loyola history. He trained with the Stars in the offseason this winter, and apparently impressed enough to earn a spot as the fourth keeper in training.
- Joseph Lapira has one of the stranger soccer stories you'll ever hear. A Lake Charles, Louisiana native with an Irish mom, he won the Hermann Trophy as the nation's top college soccer player in 2006, when he scored 22 goals for Notre Dame. As he finished up his college career, Ireland called him up to the national team, where he became the first amateur to play for Ireland since 1964. Since then, he's played three seasons in the Norwegian second division and one in the Indian second division, where he was a teammate of former Minnesota Thunder forward Johnny Menyongar.
- Nik Robson is a midfielder who's played for the New Zealand U-20 national team. He shone at forward for three years at Central Florida, then transferred to New Mexico, where he appeared in all 22 matches and started 12 in midfield. Toronto FC picked him in the third round of the secondary MLS draft this year.
- Taiga Soeda is a Japanese midfielder who impressed with his performance at the team's combine last week; he's the only player to come through the combine into preseason training with the team.
- Midfielder Gerzon Blanco is a Cal State-Fullerton product who played with current Stars defender Kevin Venegas. He scored four goals in 18 appearances for the Titans last year as a senior.
- Jordan Green is a striker from Hastings College in Nebraska, the same school as Stars striker Nate Polak. Green scored an astonishing 28 goals in 23 games in 2012.
- Luis Heitor-Piffer can play either defense or midfield. The Brazilian was once named the conference player of the year when he was at Grand View University in Des Moines several years back, but I can't find out too much about him beyond that.
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